Monday, February 18, 2013


Time just keeps on ticking away. It's been quite a bit of time since my last post. We celebrated Thanksgiving with a house full of boys from all over the world! We were able to introduce several of them to an American Thanksgiving. Karl, a boarder from of Estonia, Link from Chinese decent, Horro from Armenia, Toshiki from Japan, Chokchai from Thailand, and one of our new scholarship students from Afghanistan. Mark had to be in the states and Dustin and Ethan really wanted our traditional Thanksgiving meal so we invited some of their friends. During our time of giving thanks, Haroon from Afghanistan shared that he never, ever, imagined that he would have the chance to be in Thailand and in our home for a Thanksgiving celebration when only a few short weeks ago he was trying to survive in a very dangerous Kabul, a place he has seen classmates bombed to death. I'm not sure if he had ever been in a Christian home before and prayed to Jesus Christ? A Thanksgiving like no other. Before we knew it Christmas time was upon us. We had planned a trip to South Africa for the holidays for several reasons. Our pastor here in Thailand and his family would be on sabbatical at the same time and were willing to be our hosts in Cape Town. Dustin really wanted to return to Johannesburg and introduce us to his host, exchange, family and spend some time with them again. We have a friend from attending church in Thailand that lives in Joberg also. We also were able to reconnect with Pona, a dear, dear, sister in Christ from South Africa. Pona was a gap student at Regent's and helped start our youth group here in Thailand. Finally, Nathan was really keen to meet us in South Africa over his Christmas break. We had a wonderful time. Before leaving for South Africa, Mark was told of his next assignment. We were quite surprised to hear we would be returning to Baton Rouge, Louisiana!!! I'm still trying to get used to the idea of going 'back' some where. It will be quite different because we will not live out in the Ethel area this time and will most likely live in the city of Baton Rouge itself. I'm still mourning the fact that it is time to leave Thailand but am trusting in Acts 17 where it states that God not only determines the times we live in but the places as well. Trusting that God's timing is perfect and He has planned good works for us there in Louisiana before the beginning of time. Mark is already on the job there and we will be living apart until Dustin graduates on May 23 and then zoom to Virginia for Nathan's graduation on May 25th. I will make a house-hunting trip the week of March 17th. Mark will spend the long Songkran holiday in April with us here in Thailand. Nathan will spend his Spring Break with Mark in LA. We are hoping that our visits will be help the time pass faster til we are all settled in Baton Rouge.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pattaya Orphange

Recently Esso awarded money to employees for safety accomplishments. The group of employees that won decided to contribute all their winnings to the Pattaya Orphanage along with some personal donations of toys. It was a privilege to be at the orphanage when the gifts were presented to the site. Esso also cooked and served dinner to all the children. An amazing giving day!
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Royal Barge Procession

Yesterday I was excited to attend The Royal Barge Procession to celebrate the King's birthday here in Thailand. It consisted of a flotilla of 52 traditional style barges arranged in 5 columns, based on a battle formation from ancient times. There were 4 major royal barges. A total of 2,311 sailors from within the Royal Thai Navy served as oarsmen.

Once a year these amazing boats are taken from the Royal Barge museum to participate in this amazing ceremony down the Chao Phrayo river through Bangkok. The King presents robes to the monks at the Temple of Dawn. This year because the King's health is so poor, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn did the honors.

It was a beautiful day, the riversides were flooded with people witnessing this parade. The barges all look brand new which is amazing considering some of them were built in the 1800's and all are still sea-worthy. All the oarsmen, chanters, signalmen, Royal Regalia bearers...were outfitted in traditional costumes.

I was thrilled to be able to take Khun Nok (my housekeeper) and her mother to the festivities. They have always watched the procession via TV and were so excited to have front row tickets to the event! Before the parade there were several performances. At one point a performer was playing the mournful sounding flutella and I was looking across the river at the Thai landscape, the Thai flags flapping in the wind and I became all teary. We know our time is winding down here in this amazing country and there are so many things that I will miss. So happy I was able to witness this special event before moving.
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Chiang Mai

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Our last two days were spent in Chiang Mai as we begin our drive south towards home. It's really appropriate too. We spent our first October break over 4 years ago in Chiang Mai with the Clarkson family. We don't see them as much since they have moved to Bangkok and we miss them. It was great to be travelling some with them. It was different because all our older guys were not there with us this time. Drew and Dustin stayed at home. Dustin is incredibly busy trying to finish all his course work for IB and college applications and of course Nathan is in Virginia at the military academy. So it was just our younger guys. We reminisced about how much all our boys have grown up in the last 4 years. When we moved here Ethan was 10yrs. old, the same age as Carter now-such a difference!
Knowing that our time here is drawing to a close we spent a lot of time shopping for remembrances of Thailand. Mark finally found an elephant carving that he was happy with. Dave Clarkson commented on the number of trips they have been with us while Mark was looking for that illusive carving. We also purchased some other specific things that speak 'Thai' to us. We have a large elephant bell that is mounted, what a conversation piece. We also bought a Celedon elephant to put with my Celedon nativity set that Karen and Mary purchased for me when they visited here last Spring. I just googled this short explanation of Thai Celedon.
 "Behind this modern stoneware from Thailand is a story that goes back more than two thousand years in time.  Celadon is known as the aristocratic Oriental ancestor of the pottery family and takes its name from the elegant glaze developed by the master potters of China to duplicate their beloved jade.This exquisitely glazed Celadon was known only to the Far East until the 9th century A.D. when a few pieces found their way to Europe to be displayed with the most priceless treasures on the continent."
Those were our main purchases. It was so fun to be back travelling with the Clarkson family, it feels like we have come full circle. We even stayed at the same hotel, The Tamarind Hotel, na rak-lovely!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

We enjoyed our short stay in Pai and yesterday made the 5 hour drive to Mua Suai and then on to Chiang Rai last night. What a day! We met our friends, Kirk, Suzi and kiddos yesterday in their little village. Suzi and Kirk came to Thailand over 20 years ago with Wycliff ministries for Bible translation. They have been diligently working with the Bisu people in their tiny village of about 200 people ever since. They inspire me to the max! They originally started working with the Bisu people and for 7 years only knew of a handful of people that spoke the language, pretty much just their small village. They were discouraged and after 7 years only 2 people had come to Christ in this very superstitious, amniest tribe. They began to question their life work and then through some very strange circumstances learned of a group of Bizu people in Burma and then shortly after that found a community of Bisu people in China, the suddenly found 1000's that were in need of the Bible and so excited for their language to be written, recorded, remembered for all time. If you think of them pray for the Bisu people, they have seen 6 people come to Christ in 20+ years, the first being a blind woman-the blind will see!!! The Bisu people cooked for us and we loved their food, you eat everything with your hands, or use the sticky rice as a scoop. It was fun. Afterwards, they showed us the Powerpoint presentation they show churches and I cried through some of their testimony. They are my unsung hereos. Suzi is from Baylor and her parents live in Ft.Worth. So humbling and challenging to see how slow their work has been but how God has encouraged them and sustained them at just the right moment. They have lots of those 'goose pimple' stories!!! They took us in to Burma, and they were sooo helpful, they speak Thai, Northern Thai, and Bisu-great to have as tour guides. It's so funny, we were in the middle of no where and there is a pie place about 20 min from the Bisu village. A Thai lady who lived in Los Angeles at one time has set up this Pie place near Mua Suai, what a treat!!!! We went there and all had old-fashioned chocolate, lemon, apple, coconut....pies with meringue. Too weird to be in the middle of no where eating pie with flaky crusts!!! Our driver enjoyed it too. Suzi says it was weird to have us in their tiny village, surreal meshing our lives together. Texas girls in a hidden Northern Thailand village together. The Bisu people cooked for us and we loved their food but you have to eat everything with your hands, or use the sticky rice as a scoop. It was fun. If you think of them pray for the Bisu people, they are strong in their animists beliefs, they have seen 6 people come to Christ in 20+ years, the first being a blind woman-the blind will see!!!
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Driving Thailand Oct.2012

One thing that we have not done during our time here in Thailand is drive to Northern Thailand. I've taken an overnight train ride to Chiang Mai, I've flown up to Chiang Mai a couple of times but driving up to the mountains of Thailand has always been on Mark's 'to-do' list. Songkran, our driver, agreed to drive us and Ethan, Mark and I are taking advantage of the half-term break this week at their school to do just that! Dustin stayed at home to work on course work for his IB curriculum while Nok, our housekeeper looks out for him. We drove about 9 hours our first day to reach Sukhothai, the first ancient kingdom of Thailand, where the original Thai alphabet was born. We spent the morning exploring the ruins of the ancient temples of the city after enjoying our lovely, Thai, hotel before driving to our next destination of Pai. Mark and I figured it would take approx. 4 more hours to reach Pai. After 11 (!) hours of terribly, curvy, mountain, roads that were at some points not paved; we finally arrived. We LOVE our driver, Songkran, but we were so lost yesterday!! We definitely were on the non-tourist track which I usually enjoy so much, but we had planned to meet some friends in Pai for dinner-we rescheduled for breakfast. Having a driver is an experience, it is quite a blessing for Mark at times, he gets tons of work, phone calls made... while commuting back and forth to work. We only know one other family that has been here as long as we have that have their original driver. We have friends that have had over 25 drivers in 4 years. We are so thankful for Songkran, he has never had a sick day, he has requested a couple of days off to visit his sick father, he has only been late two times in over 4 years. He has a great personality, he likes to laugh-sometimes at inappropriate times but is just a jolly, nice guy. He initially was unsure about taking a week away from his family and driving us up North but eventually said he wanted the work and extra pay. He said he had driven North many times. When we initially set off he handed us a map to follow along and never once have I seen him reference it in the car.I was impressed-at first. Mark was reading, watching the sites, dozing and I occasionally was trying to figure out where in the world we were. I just couldn't figure out the route Songkran was taking but was trying not to fret about it and leave the driving to him. Most of the road signs were in Thai only. It is a weird thing having a full time driver, I never tell him how to drive, I don't screech when we almost run in to someone, I set in the back seat and for the most part am oblivious to where and how I'm being driven around-I wish I could do a better job of that when Mark is in the driver's seat. After driving 8 hours out-of-the-way I wish I would have stepped in and said something earlier. It was a most trying day but we saw lots of things that most tourists will never see that is for sure!!! I was about ready to scream/cry in the back seat by the time we found our resort but am thankful that we arrived safe and sound FINALLY. One other note, we try to speak another language, "Codespeak" when we are all in the car and don't want Songkran to understand what is being said. Our Spanish is very limited so we try to use a 'BIG' vocabulary. It can be hilarious. Yesterday I am saying stuff like, "I think we may need to reference the atlas, as our route seems to be muddled." It can be pretty funny, yesterday, Ethan would say, "What are ya'll talking about?" and I just have to say, "Codespeak" and he knows that we are trying to talk about Songkran without his knowing. Man! I wish I knew more Spanish!but we are working on increasing our vocabulary while having a driver!
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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Summer 2012

We had a very busy, hectic summer and I was just terrible in taking pictures, not many memories captured on photo:( I've got to do better! But I did want to post the few that I have stored in our files. Someday this blog will be my photo album/journal and the only stored memory I will have of Summer 2012! Lots of things happened this summer. Dustin spent the summer serving as a music intern at Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, Wy. He is worse than me in taking photos and thus I have none from his entire summer:( Nathan participated in two short term medical mission projects. One with FAME ministry and he was working along side a medical team in the Dominican Republic. The second was stateside in Pennsylvania working with Joni and Friends. There are just a few pictures on his facebook page to commerate those experiences:( Ethan attended Camp Travis in Austin and otherwise travelled around with me all summer, lugging our suitcases everywhere! We spent the first two weeks of the summer with Aunt Lola in LaPorte, TX. It was so fun to be able to so many friends from when we lived in that area. Nearly every morning I took a long bike ride in old LaPorte, to Sylvan Beach, past our old church, just thorougly enjoyed the cooler temperatures and down time. We then flew to Los Angeles where Mark was auditing a refinery in Los Angeles for two weeks. During that time Nathan was in the DR. Ethan and I enjoyed checking out LA-Universal Studios, we took a Hollywood tour-thought it was amazing that Billy Graham had a star on the Walk of Fame?! We went to a Cirque-Soliel performance that was awesome. Dustin flew down for one week and we toured colleges with him. USC, UCLA, UC at San Diego, Biola, Master's and Pepperdine. What a busy week! He is busy applying to Biola (1st choice), Master's, UCLA and UC at San Diego. Then Mark, Ethan and I flew to Denver, Colorado and met my parents and Nathan there. My parents had been to the Calgary Stampede rodeo and were driving home. Nathan flew in from PA. My parents actually got to spend time with Dustin in WY, visit the church he interned at and spend time with his host family. We then ALL (it was quite crowded with 6 adults in a pick-up-my boys are all man size now!)drove to Clovis, NM to spend time in their home. We celebrated Nathan's 18th Birthday there and all the family that lives near helped us honor him. Sadly, it was the first birthday that Dustin and Nathan were apart from each other:( signs of the times! they are growing up!!!! Nathan, Ethan, Mark and I then drove to Houston for MD Anderson appointments. Both Mark and my Mom had good reports. My parents flew to Houston and met us there after attending Bob Herndon's funeral. Ethan stayed with my parents in Houston while Mark and Nathan flew to Virginia for college tours and Dustin flew in and we flew straight to University of Michigan for Dustin to visit their music school. Nathan is wanting to attend a Nursing program. He has already been accepted to Liberty but will also apply to University of Virginia, VCA and James Madison. So many big decisions for our family in the coming year. Dustin and I had a wonderful time in Michigan. The weather was just perfect! We stayed with friends of ours from Thailand that had just relocated back to Michigan. They live in the most peaceful town of Holly, MI. We had fun trekking with them and we also took a two hour kayak trip through some beautiful country. Dustin and I flew back to Houston to retrieve Ethan. Mark enrolled Nathan in his final year at Fork Union Military Academy in VA, two weeks early for him to attend Officer's Training. He is heavily involved in leadership at the Academy this year. He is over a platoon and is serving on the Honor Council, they hear all cases and decide if cadets will be dismissed from the Academy for infractions. He is also President of the Interact Club and on the Rifle Team. Dustin, Ethan and I then flew to DC and Mark met us there and we returned to Thailand. It was exhausting!!! I was so ready to get out of our suitcases and be home in Thailand. Any way, I'll post the pitiful pictures I managed to take this summer-sad!
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